How Many Nancy Drew Movie Adaptations Have There Been?

Enduring girl detective Nancy Drew is making the leap to the big screen – again. The character, who made her first appearance in the 1930 book The Secret of the Old Clock, has been rebooted for modern audiences for the new movie, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, which opens March 15.

The new Nancy (Sophia Lillis of It) has ditched her cloche hat and blue roadster for hoodies and skateboarding, and she has to contend with online bullying. But she’s still a teen sleuth, and with the help of her friends Bess and George, she helps to solve the mystery of what’s really going on at a supposedly haunted mansion.

This isn’t the first time the book has been made into a movie

Hardcore Nancy Drew fans know that Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is the second book in the long-running series. And it’s not the first time the story has been turned into a movie. In 1939, Bonita Granville starred in a movie of the same name based on the book.

The 1930s Nancy Drew movie series

A poster for the 1939 movie Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase
A poster for the 1939 movie Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

The 1939 version of Hidden Staircase was actually the fourth and last of four Nancy Drew movies that came out in the late 1930s. The first, Nancy Drew … Detective, was released in 1938. It was followed by Nancy Drew … Reporter, Nancy Drew … Trouble Shooter, and Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase before the short-lived series wrapped up. All four movies were directed by William Clemens and starred Granville as Nancy.

1970s and 1990s TV series

Hollywood tried to bring Nancy Drew to life again in the 1970s. Pamela Sue Martin (and later Janet Julian) starred in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, which ran for three seasons and combined the adventures of Nancy Drew with those of the fellow young detectives the Hardy Boys. But as the series progressed, Nancy’s role was gradually reduced and then dropped entirely as the show focused more on the Hardy Boys (played by Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson).

Pamela Sue Martin and Shaun Cassidy
Pamela Sue Martin and Shaun Cassidy in an episode of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries | ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

Nancy made it back to her TV in her own series in 1995. Tracy Ryan played the title character on the show, which aired for one season. There was also a 2002 TV movie that aired on ABC. It was supposed to be a pilot for an eventual series that was never produced.

The 2007 Nancy Drew movie

A decade after the 1990s TV series, Warner Bros. decided the time was right for another Nancy Drew movie. This one starred Emma Roberts and was more of a comedy, with Nancy finding herself an out-of-place overachiever once she and her father relocate from their small town of River Heights to Los Angeles. While a sequel was planned, it never materialized.

A new Nancy Drew TV series is in the works

Over the past several years, there have been various reports about plans for a new Nancy Drew TV series, including a possible show about a grown-up version of Nancy, though nothing has made it to screen — yet.

Now, the CW is working on a drama inspired by the character. The show will hew close to the source material, according to a September 2018 report by Deadline and is being produced by the same team that created Gossip Girl.

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